Mobile advertiser tracked users' locations, without their consent, FTC alleges

InMobi has agreed to pay $950,000 as part of a penalty

The privacy settings on your phone don’t mean much if tech companies choose to ignore them. One major mobile advertiser allegedly did just that.

The company InMobi was secretly tracking user locations, regardless of consent, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged on Wednesday. The motive: to serve location-based ads over mobile apps.

InMobi is headquartered in India and partners with thousands of apps to offer advertising. This gives the company access to 1.5 billion devices.

Collecting user information to serve tailored ads is all too common, but InMobi did so through deception, the FTC alleged. The company stated it would only collect the location-based data if given permission, however, InMobi secretly collected it anyway, the agency said.

InMobi also created a database that could guess a user’s whereabouts, even when the location-tracking function had been shut off, the FTC said.

The company also allegedly tracked the locations of children, when promising not to do so.  A U.S. privacy regulation requires companies collecting information about children to first gain the consent from their parents.

inmobi ads InMobi

Mobile advertising from InMobi

“The case is the FTC’s first charging a mobile ad company with deception and with violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” the agency said in a blog post.

InMobi has agreed to a settlement and will pay a US$950,000 fine. The company blamed a “technical error” for serving children with the targeted advertising.

In no way was this “deliberate,” and the company notified the FTC as soon as the problem was discovered, InMobi said in an email.

It also said that the company was only tracking users’ location without their permission in “certain instances.” The problems were corrected in last year’s fourth quarter, InMobi added.

As part of the settlement, InMobi must delete all the information it illegally collected and operate a privacy program for the next 20 years to keep the company in line with regulations. It must also honor the user's location privacy settings.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?